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Biography:
Interviews

Reggae artist and BEFFTA award winner, Empress Imani, sat down with Urban North to discuss her music and why she thinks it’s important to inspire young females.

Imani spent a lot of her childhood in St Vincent and you can tell the vibes and sounds of the Carribean island have stuck with her and made their way into the music she creates as an adult. Imani describes herself as rootsy, afrocentric, cultural and soulful which she also applies to her music.
You can tell by talking to her that Imani is deeply involved in her culture. She tells us that reggae music is infused in her DNA and that she can’t hide from it but recently she has been quite drawn to the afrobeats genre: “I think a lot of the music infuses different styles anyway and sometimes I don’t even know what the afrobeat music is saying but its just the vibration of it so I’m open to doing more of that in the future. But that vibration I get from straight reggae is always what I’m about really.”
Imani has a young daughter, aged 5, and explained how she feels it’s important to talk about real life women’s issues in her music so her daughter and other females can listen and gain a deeper understanding: “I’ve got a 5 year old and I want her to be able to listen to the music and feel the vibration but also get a message and something of substance from it.
“So I want to ensure that all my lyrics are something that my child could sing or get something from on a deep level so thats very important to me.”
Listen to Empress Imani- Black woman rise:

“I think that female empowerment and unity is important in order for us to get ahead.” – Empress Imani

She went on to tell us why she believes it’s important for females to empower each other: “As a female and listening to other female artists I find it empowering when the message is positive. That’s the kind of music that touches me deep and I value that. I think that female empowerment and unity is important in order for us to get ahead. So I think it’s definitely a negative if you’re working against each other.”
Imani has just won Best Reggae act at the prestigious BEFFTA awards and informed us that this was definitely her proudest achievement in music so far. She also confessed that winning the award has boosted her confidence as she struggles with this sometimes.
She said: “Winning the BEFFTA award was  like quite huge for me because I know a lot of other fellow artists that are out there doing their thing. It’s quite a prestigious award and it’s a really big achievement for me. Sometimes I do struggle with confidence a little bit as it’s like as an artist you’re never good enough for yourself so to get the recognition is just fantastic. It’s hard to be nominated and then to have that many people vote for you to win it that says that people have faith and belief in your craft.”
She went on to explain why winning the award just felt like it was her time: “It was really special because number 9 is my spiritual number and we’re in the year of the 9 if you add up 2,0, 1 & 6. Then the award show was on the 27th, 2 + 7 = 9! Then my category was number 9 so I  was like this is my time! It felt so great when I won, I’ve been nominated for the past 2 years so 3 times lucky.
Imani has just released her new single titled Pull Up Dat Reggae Tune, and hopefully plans on releasing an EP sometime next year. She states some of her biggest musical influences as Jah9, Bob Marley, Indie Arie & Lauryn Hill. You can hear the impact of these artists throughout her music which she describes as revolutionary, uplifting and conscious.
Listen to a short clip of Empress Imani’s new single, Pull Up Dat Reggae Tune:
Touring across Africa is one of Empress Imani’s goals and she exclusively informed Urban North that her and her team are working on this at the moment.
However we wanted to know what her opinion on the local scene is, Imani lives in Leeds so we wanted her opinion on some of her favourite artists from the North. She told us she thinks the local scene is popping right now: “It’s definitely picking up. There’s been a few new underground artists that are doing their thing and I think that normally Leeds artists are a little bit unheard and I think thats slowly beginning to change.
“My favourite Leeds artists are Harris Hameed, Weezy Jefferson, Bianca Gerald & Corrine Bailey Rae.”
Finally, as this feature focuses on women in the music industry we asked Empress Imani to give us some advice that she would give young females that aspire to be musicians, DJ’s presenters etc.
She said: “Ultimately to know yourself, first and foremost that goes for everything because thats identity. Once you know yourself you know who you are. That goes for your image,  what you represent, what you’ll accept and what you wont. Because sometimes as a female, we go through some sticky situations. When you know who you are that’s imperative. Doubting yourself can knock you down 10 steps, you’ve got to believe in yourself and be serious about your craft and just keep your head screwed on.”

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